DC Comics Posts

The Joker is IT: Collecting Lovable Clowns in Pop Culture

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

pennywise jokerHey, collectors, do you know what time it is? It’s clown time! (Maniacal laugh). In all seriousness, and clowns are a serious subject, they’re kind of a big deal right now in pop culture. The second IT movie is doing big box office, as is the Clown Prince of Crime, aka Joker.

So with those two lovable jesters going at it (I haven’t seen either movie, so I assume they’re light-hearted comedies), why not look at some other clowns from pop culture? And since this is hobbyDB, we’re focusing on ones with collectibility. Also, Halloween is around the corner, and you might need a costume idea.

pennywise collectibles Stephen King’s original novel IT was actually a middling success with critics, and he even disavowed it to a degree. Pennywise seems innocent enough to the kids at first, which is the scary part. Nonetheless, it made for a scary TV movie adaptation in the early ‘90s and a downright horrifying two-part cinematic remake in the last few years. Both generations are represented in the collectible world.

Not to be outdone, the Joker has pestering Gotham City for so long he has become something of a sympathetic creature. Thanks to the fluidity of the DC timeline, the character has been interpreted numerous ways from relatively benign (Ceasar Romero) to comically psychotic (Jack Nicholson, Mark Hammill) to psychopathic (Heath Ledger) to, well, a tragic and misunderstood figure (Joaquin Phoenix). While the older versions of Joker have been well represented in collectible form, the latest one has not… yet.

joker collectiblesCould it be that the “R” rating of the new movie makes it not as useful for being turned into what are essentially toys such as Funko Pop figures? Well, consider that Ledger’s Joker was anything but kid-friendly (a lot of folks felt The Dark Knight should have come with the same rating) but is well represented in collectibles. Also, there is no shortage of Pennywise merchandise, and both IT movies were for grownups.

It might be that the passage of time was necessary for those two versions to become collectible. Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance has become so iconic that it has passed into the culture in general. And part one of IT came out two years ago, so the critical and box office success suggested collectors wanted more Pennywise.

Even Jared Leto’s much-maligned take on the character was worthy of some Pop love. But Pheonix’s performance has also come with critical acclaim (more so than the movie itself even). And early box office has been no joke. While we wait for the punchline, let’s look at some other pop culture clowns…

Seems Harmless Enough

clown krustyIf you grew up in the ’60s or ’70s in the Chicago area, you were treated to a morning of goofiness from Bozo. Other stations in other markets had weak imitations of him, but WGN Bozo was the real deal.

A younger generation grew up with Krusty the Clown as their makeup intensive morning entertainment. As a part of the Simpsons universe, we get to see him not only behind the scenes but in day-to-day life where he never removes his costume or gets out of character (aside from being a surly, bothered, chain-smoking pile of bitterness).

Even though he’s a throwaway character, The Clown With The Tearaway Face adds a bit of spooky fun to the Nightmare Before Christmas. But not too spooky.

Not to get into the politics or ethics of fast food and consumerism, but Ronald McDonald has been enticing kids into his restaurants for decades. Despite his gentle demeanor, artists and satirists have portrayed him in a scarier form, the weirdest being the heavy metal band Mac Sabbath. Seriously, check them out!

Speaking of Clowns Who Rock…

kiss insane clown posseLove’em or hate ‘em, the boys of Insane Clown Posse put on an intense show and have an even more intense following. Juggalos, their fans, are more invested in the whole circus act than the band itself.

Can we talk about KISS? As much as they wanted to be scary metal gods, their music was more of a loud, hard, pop sound and their mostly monochromatic outfits barely qualified as menacing. Don’t worry, though, we’re laughing with you, not at you.

killer klown funkoClown Schlock

No one would ever pretend Killer Klowns From Outer Space is a cinematic masterpiece. But it was a good, silly, modestly scary time at the cinema, and in the right frame of mind, buckets of fun.

Clown Time is Over

hot wheels clown carFive Nights at Freddy’s walks a weird line between entertainingly good fun and genuinely dark jump scares. In addition to the animatronic band gone awry, the cast includes Fruitpunch Clown who knows how to exploit evil lighting angles to maximum effect.

Regardless of whether clowns give you the giggles or nightmares, there are plenty more collectibles out there we just couldn’t fit in our clown car. Let us know some of your favorites in the comments!

From Marvel to Marbles to Mar-Vell to Ms.: The Crazy History of Captain Marvel

Captian Marvel

captain marvel

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

The early audience reviews for the new Captain Marvel film were not very good. In fact, they pretty much trashed the movie. The problem was, those reviews came out before the film was even released. It was a case of trolling fueled by… who even knows anymore? Something to do with the character suddenly being a woman, right? We live in weird times.

Once the movie finally hit theaters, critics and fans agreed it actually was pretty darn good and lots of fun. The retro ‘90s theme was a hit with audiences (just wait til Wonder Woman’s 1984 era movie comes out!), and Brie Larson nails the performance. So in the end, she triumphed.

captain marvelBut, come to think of it, when did Captain Marvel become a woman? Wasn’t she a guy in a live action TV show back in the ‘70s? He drove around the country in a Winnebago with a kid and guy who looked like a cross between Pat Morita and Stan Lee, right? Turns out this superhero has a way more convoluted backstory than you may have remembered.

captain marvelOf course it makes sense that Captain Marvel would have been created in 1967 by Stan Lee of…. wait for it… MARVEL Comics. Except, the character was actually named “Captain Mar-Vell” because the “Captain Marvel” name was already taken by another comic book publisher. A publisher that had been defunct for a decade and a half. Oh, and Captain Marvel was a man back then, so your memory is correct. Partly anyway.

See, there was an earlier character named “Captain Marvel” who appeared in various titles from Fawcett Comics from 1940 to 1953. That early date puts him right on par with the first superheroes, such as Batman, Superman, and Captain America, who debuted in the late 1930s and early ’40s. And that was the start of his problems.

captain marvel

Nothing at all similar between these two comics, right?

Fawcett unfortunately went out of business in 1953 after a copyright infringement suit involving the character. Not from Marvel, but from National Comics. Apparently they felt this caped, flying strongman was a little too similar to their character Superman. Wait, what? Yep, DC Comics was actually known as National Comics back then and sued over a character named after another comic book company that actually had yet to be named similarly to that character, but who subsequently named their new character after themselves. Did I mention this stuff is convoluted?

captain marvel hoppyBefore the lawsuit was settled, Fawcett really hunkered down on the character, creating Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, Uncle Marvel, Grandpa Marvel, and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny. (One of those characters I just made up. If you guessed Grandpa Marvel, you are correct. Yep, Hoppy actually existed. And I thought we were living in weird times today…)

Meanwhile, in 1953, issue #4 of MAD ran the story of Superduperman, featuring a nod to his lawsuit against Captain Marbles. MAD would of course eventually become part of the DC empire. (I am not making any of this up so far, aside from Grandpa Marvel. Seriously.)

captain marvelSpeaking of DC, they eventually acquired the rights to Fawcett’s Captain Marvel character and decided he had a lot of potential to expand the brand. Of course, with that name, he would be likely expanding the brand of their biggest competitor, so they gave him a new backstory and a catchy new title (but not a new name). The first issue of Shazam! was released by DC in 1973, complete with the subtitle, “The Original Captain Marvel.” So, naturally, there was another lawsuit. The producers of Gomer Pyle USMC sued over the “Shazam” catchphrase (okay, I made that up too, but honestly, at this point, it sounded believable, right?). No, of course it was Marvel Comics who sued DC over the name and the character. So the tagline was changed to “The World’s Mightiest Mortal.” And by the time it hit TV, people just kind of assumed that “Shazam” was the character’s name.

Got all that? Okay, back to Captain Marvel. The one from Marvel. The one named “Mar-Vell.” The one from the new movie. Yeah, her. Him. Let’s go back in time a bit… Captain Mar-Vell, a flying alien superhero from another planet (man, that sounds familiar), took off on his own in the late ’60s. Turns out he shared molecules with a kid named Rick Jones, and only one could exist in the world at a time, so they flip-flopped between the two identities. If that sounds familiar (it probably doesn’t but…) that was almost word for word the origin story of the original Fawcett character.

captain marvel

Ironically, while DC’s Shazam! was becoming popular with comic fans and TV viewers, readers didn’t really dig Marvel’s Marvel, so the character was killed off in the 1970s. And then revived several times since, as various male and female characters, most with the last name “Vell.” At one point he was resurrected long enough to die again in an explosion where his DNA was mixed with his cohort, USAF Officer Carol Danvers. So Danvers acquired super powers and of course became… Ms. Marvel. And then she eventually just took on the Captain Marvel name. At various times over the last couple of decades Ms./Captain Marvel has starred in her own standalone comics, made guest appearances in other stories, and has been part of the Avengers. So if you’ve been paying attention and weren’t confused by everything that happened before, all of this should make sense.

captain marvel

So yeah, now there’s a Captain Marvel movie, and the character is female, and it’s a pretty dang good movie, and you should see it despite what the trolls tried to tell you. And you’re going to love her cat Goose.

captain marvel

By the way, DC is releasing a Shazam! movie later this summer. It looks like a fun, goofy, good time at the cinema. No word on whether he’s called “Captain Marvel” anytime in the flick. Let’s hope not. That could get confusing.

Justice League Was Potentially Spoiled by a Funko POP!

Curious to know how the upcoming Justice League movie ends? We might actually have the answer to that question. If not, we implore you to stop reading!

justice-league-funko popIt’s no secret that Funko has been giving lots of love to DC to hype Justice League. However, over on superherostuff.com, the description for the Justice League Superman Funko vinyl has turned a few heads to say the least. Their description reads as follows:

The Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Flash figures are barely holding their own against invading Parademons and an axe-wielding Steppenwolf. If only Superman — in Funko figure form — was here…

LOOK! UP IN THE SKY! Is that…is that Superman?? IT IS! It’s the Superman Justice League Movie Funko Pop Vinyl Figure and it resurrected itself moments before Steppenwolf skewered Wonder Woman with a hefty chunk of Venezuela!

Measuring 4″ high, this soft-vinyl, ridiculously cute and crouching Superman caricature is based on his appearance in DC’s cinematic superhero opus, Justice League.”

superman popOn one hand, this is possibly a fun bit of fan fiction to help sell this particular POP! figure. They clearly specify their scene is taking place among the figures and not with the actual characters, after all. On the other hand, it’s an oddly specific bit of narration if that’s the case. Besides, Superman returning to save the day at the last minute sounds pretty convincing. I think I’d be more surprised if that didn’t wind up happening.

Overall, should we be labeling this as legit Justice League information? Eh. It’d be one thing if this was official copy from Funko themselves, but this blurb comes to us via superherostuff.com themselves. That is to say, we’re a few degrees separated from an official source here. Beyond that, your guess is as good as ours.

Having said that, can we talk about the fact that Steppenwolf is apparently throwing Venezuela at Wonder Woman? I want this to be true just for that detail alone.

6 of the Most Bizarre Comic Books Ever Written

Many popular comic books are pretty odd, but you have to try really hard to make one of the most bizarre comic books ever.

Seriously, a boy develops superhuman speed and strength after being bitten by a spider? A journalist by day is actually Superman, a crime-fighting alien with the powers of flight, x-ray vision, and super strength? Let’s also not kid ourselves and say Batman isn’t a detective in a bat costume who once tried to solve the mystery of whether Paul McCartney is dead or not (okay, they didn’t use Paul’s name in the comic, but the inspiration is obvious).

The Avengers On Late Night With David LettermanFortunately, none of these exceedingly silly origin stories matter in the grand scheme of our favorite characters. As audiences get older and increase their reverence for these classic heroes, comic book writers develop these flamboyant characters in ways that connect with the struggles their readers face.

The Avengers On Late Night With David Letterman

Comic book writers sure do love their crazy crossovers, and we wish we could say that The Avengers making an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman is the silliest crossover ever written.

Being that Letterman’s career as a late-night TV host ended just last year, it now seems appropriate that he spent many of his final years sitting down with cast members of the modern Avengers movies.

The Life Of Pope John Paul II

Life of Pope John Paul IIAll right, The Life of Pope John Paul II may be a straight-forward biographical comic… but that’s why it’s so strange!

The fact that Marvel Comics – responsible for characters like Thor and Deadpool – found time to base a comic on a true story is bizarre when you think about it. Believe it or not, The Life of Pope John Paul II is not the only Marvel comic based on a religious figure: they also penned issues based on Mother Teresa and Saint Francis of Assisi.

Longshot Comics

Longshot ComicsNo, we’re not talking about Marvel’s lesser-known X-Man named Longshot. We’re talking about Shane Simmons’ Longshot Comics, a comic book series about… dots.

That’s right, under the loose justification that the audience is viewing the action from a distance (or, as you might say, a longshot), Longshot Comics features everything from war stories to tales of domestic households through the simplest form of what could be called art. Could anyone have made Longshot Comics? Probably, but Simmons’ work likely set the stage for modern “artless” works like Dinosaur Comics.

Superman Meets The Quik Bunny

Superman Meets Quik BunnyWith a hero as powerful as the man of steel, one would think he’d pick an extraordinarily powerful companion to brave the dangerous situations he often finds himself in. Or, you know, he could team up with the Quik Bunny, that works too.

Do Superman and the Quik Bunny have a chocolate milk drinking contest? Is the Quik Bunny given a tall glass of delicious Nesquik to help calm his nerves? Find out the shocking answers in this special issue of Superman! (Spoilers, the answers are yes and yes).

Archie Meets The Punisher

Archie Meets The PunisherThe Punisher is a hyper-violent vigilante who has no problem with torture and extortion to accomplish his goals. Archie is a teenager who can’t decide whether he likes Betty or Veronica. Obviously, these two characters belong together.

This has to be the most ridiculous crossover comic ever written. Right? Right? Not even close! Well,, that’s up for debate. In fact, we’ll bring you another list of truly strange comics soon!

Godzilla Vs. Charles Barkley

Godzilla vs BarkleySomewhere out there is a Venn diagram that shows the overlap between fans of basketball and giant monsters. Marketing executives saw it and concluded that Godzilla and Charles Barkley needed to be put in the same universe. That’s what we’re assuming, anyway, because… what is this!?

Between this and the fan-made Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden role-playing game from the late 2000s, there must be something about the famous basketball player that makes people want to put him in the most ridiculous situations imaginable. This is the only way we can reconcile seeing an actual panel in which Godzilla dons basketball shoes and attempts a slam dunk.

Let us know your favorite strangest comics in the comments below!

 

 

Batman Vs. Superman: Whose Collectibles Are Rarer?

batman superman wonder woman

Detective_Comics 27It’s about time DC Comics fans finally receive closure to pop culture’s most burning question: if Batman and Superman got in a fight, who would win? Would Superman prevail over Batman with his superhuman strength, or would Batman be resourceful enough to exploit Superman’s weakness to Kryptonite? Many authoritative figures have chimed in on the subject, including an actual writer of Batman Vs. Superman, but we may never receive a definitive answer that pleases everyone. After all, what’s the fun in a debate that has a single right answer?

More importantly, how do they stack up in the world of collecting?

Round 1: Batman Collectibles

For collectors of rare Batman items, there’s great diversity in the collectibles you could look for, with over 2,000 collectibles in the hobbyDB database.

If you’re into novelty toys, Batman’s got you covered. From the Justice League’s Attack Armor Batman that faced a limited production run, to the 1966 Ideal Batman Utility Belt which is virtually impossible to find sealed and intact, you could spend days figuring out how many thousands of dollars can be spent on Batman toys.

mego elastic batmanPerhaps the most infamous of all Batman toys, however, is the Mego Elastic Batman. For those who don’t know, the toy company Mego produced a series of toys throughout 1979 called the “Mego Elastic Heroes,” which were functionally similar to the popular “Stretch Armstrong” toyline, but instead featured Superheroes. They were so similar to Stretch Armstrong, in fact, that Kenner filed a lawsuit against Mego for ripping off their product. By July of 1980, Mego ceased production of the Elastic Heroes, and the stage was officially set for these toys to become extremely sought after collectibles more than 30 years later.

As the rarest and most valuable item in the series, the Mego Elastic Batman has sold for as much as $15,100. Even a loose and worn Mego Elastic Batman can be worth approximately $300.

But wait: Batman collectibles get even crazier. If you ever thought of owning the very first Batman comic book, you might be looking at spending in the area of $1,380,000! If that is not rich enough for you, then we advise you to look into the original Batmobile used in the famous 1960s Batman TV series. Designed by famed auto customizer George Barris, this vintage car sold for $4.6 million at auction, trumping even older vintage cars being sold at the same venue. Regrettably, the Funko Pop Batmobile is not quite as valuable.

action comics 1Round 2: Superman Collectibles

On the surface, Superman collectibles don’t hold quite the same clout as Batman collectibles do (just over 500 items in the hobbyDB database). However, don’t take this to mean there aren’t some valuable gems to be discovered.

For instance, those who were part of the “Supermen of America” club during the 1940s had a chance of receiving an exclusive member’s ring that is considered one of the first superhero collectibles ever made. Though one of these rings was infamously turned down for sale on an episode of Pawn Stars, this same collectible has also sold for as much as $40,000 online.

And yes, there is a Mego Elastic Superman, too.

However, much like a malicious supervillain with a trick up his sleeve, the world of Superman collectibles has a secret weapon: The original Superman comic. The inaugural issue of Action Comics is a holy grail among comic book collectors, and a mint condition print of the notorious comic more than doubles the value of Batman’s Detective Comics debut. In fact, it has sold for as much as $3.2 million! Some may say that this number is still well below the vintage Batmobile described above, but remember that this issue of Action Comics sold for a mere 10 cents once upon a time. If we were to calculate an increase in value by percentage, nothing would come close to Action Comics #1. Even if you owned many of the rarest Batman toys ever made, it would still take a lot to amass a collection that is worth as much as this single comic.

superman-batman-squirt-gunsThe Verdict

In terms of which hero has the single most valuable collectible in his arsenal, it’s hard to argue with Superman’s comic book debut. Excluding one-of-a-kind movie memorabilia, nothing even comes close.

However, if we are to judge the overall spread of valuable collectibles across comics, toys, and even original sketches, Batman reigns supreme. Fact of the matter is, Batman is a more relevant superhero to modern pop culture than Superman is, and the Bat’s spread of portrayals from Adam West to Christian Bale has made the character as much of a meme machine as he is a dramatic hero. The comic book industry owes a lot to Superman for setting the foundation for the Superhero genre today, yet while we do love the Man of Steel, we can’t argue with the data: Batman is the king of collectibles.

Consider this, though… Batman has the Batmobile, the Batboat, the Batcycle, the Batcave… Superman had some sort of flying car with fists that was slower and weaker than he already was. Batman has a much larger cast of cohorts and villains, so it’s not a fair fight. There are almost as many models of various Batmobiles on hobbyDB as Superman items total.

But hey, we’re not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like. Whether you’re a fan of Superman or Batman, you should enjoy everything each legend has to offer regardless of who has the more expensive collectibles. Just remember to hold off fighting fans who disagree and leave the battling to the heroes.